August 25, 2022

Paranoid Thriller “Watcher” is a Strong Directorial Debut (Review)

Being a stranger in a strange land is far from an ideal situation. Not having the personal connections you rely on at home, combined with an irreversible sense of loneliness, is more terrifying than what you’ll find in several horror movies.

Watcher, the debut feature from director Chloe Okuno, takes that feeling and dials it up to eleven. Maika Monroe plays Julia, an American, who moves to Bucharest after her husband Francis (Devs’ Karl Glusman) accepts a job there. Due to his upbringing, Francis is fluent in Romanian, but Julia is not, further isolating her in her new home, which she’s already uncomfortable in. To make matters worse, a man who lives across the street seems to be watching her, and Julia begins to theorize that he is the serial killer, called “the Spider” by the local media, who has been decapitating Romanian women.

August 23, 2022

Top Ten TV Series of 2022 (so far)

If you havent yet, check out my Top Ten Movies of 2022 (so far)!

This is another list that I intended to do at the mid-year point, but again, due to shifting schedules and the general chaos of life, it’s now an August event. There are some series that are either currently airing or have just completed (looking at you, Only Murders in the Building) that will almost certainly appear on my list by the year’s end, but for now, I’ll focus on series that have completed on or before the week of August 15. And with that, enjoy my top ten television series of the year thus far!

Image courtesy of Netflix

August 19, 2022

My Top Ten Movies of 2022 (so far)

I intended to do this at the mid-year point, but due to shifting schedules and the general chaos of life, it’s now an August event. Because of this, there are definitely some films on here that are more recent than the mid-year, but my hope is that it will be diverse enough from my end-of-year list that they will be able to function as separate lists. From the Space Age to the ’60s, Nic Cage to the Dark Knight, slasher homages to viking epics, and the emotionally heartfelt to the gripping drama of real life, this list has it all.

August 15, 2022

“Secret Headquarters” is a Fun, Familiar Superhero Film for the Whole Family (Review)

I’ve always thought that children’s entertainment should not be thought of as inferior, with a comparable level of criticism to adult-oriented productions — with a pointed acknowledgement of its intentions and target audience. On the flip side, there are films and television made for all ages, which Disney and Pixar (up until very recently) seemed to have a monopoly on.

Now, the “hot new thing” is superheroes. Everything superhero-related is getting greenlit — except if it’s even tangentially related to Warner Bros. — because it’s arguably the most recognizable sub-genre by the last two generations of kids, especially with Marvel having dominated the box office for the past 14 years.

But that doesn’t mean it all has to be good. Oftentimes, in the age of influx, more attention is paid to high volume output instead of quality control, and because of that, we get more Marvel projects than we know what to do with. We get a rushed DC cinematic universe. We get movies like Secret Headquarters.

August 9, 2022

I’m Going Off the Rails on a “Bullet Train” (Review)

There are a lot of things that Bullet Train could have been — a straightforward adaptation of Kōtarō Isaka’s 2010 novel, a wildly divergent interpretation, or somewhere in the middle — and I believe it made the right choice and settled with the best of both worlds.

I finished reading Isaka’s novel the morning before seeing the film, and my expectations were admittedly higher than the average moviegoer. After seeing the trailers for months on end during nearly every trip to the theater, I was sufficiently excited, even more so to see the characters I had gotten to know brought to life on the big screen by some of my favorite actors.

August 7, 2022

The “Predator” Franchise Isn’t Messing Around with its “Prey” (Review)

There were several hurdles facing Prey even before its release. First (and perhaps most glaringly) was that the Predator franchise had infamously tired itself out, with Shane Black’s 2018 entry seemingly ending the series after a poor box office performance. The once-epic and macho-driven franchise seemed to be running out of ideas, despite lots of unresolved promise in recent installments.

So what did Prey do? It does what any effective prequel does and brings everything back to the basics. In fact, it’s so dedicated to being a prequel that it’s set over 250 years before the original Predator, and it works as a decoupled prologue to the series without interfering with any canon or lore — this is in comparison with Shane Black’s film, which tried far to hard to establish the opposite.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Set in 1719,
Prey (the best title this film could have chosen) follows a young Comanche woman, Naru (a perfectly-cast Amber Midthunder), who was trained as a healer but longs to become a hunter like her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers). Naru is already a capable warrior, but in order to prove her skill to her tribe, she pursues the arrival of a mysterious figure — and we all know where this is going. What Naru believes to be a mystical Thunderbird is actually a spaceship dropping off a Yautja warrior, known colloquially as a Predator of a Hunter. Still, she takes this as a sign, and it ends up being very beneficial for her; she soon finds herself going head-to-head with one of the fiercest beings in the known universe.

August 4, 2022

“Luck” Overcomes the Standard Animation Formula (Review)

In light of recent events concerning Warner Bros. Discovery’s decisions re: HBO Max, I have learned not to take any streaming-only film for granted. If any “exclusive” can be removed at any time, they should be treated as the marvels they are; in truth, it’s a miracle any movie gets made, not to mention fully completed, and respect should be paid regardless of streaming status. This is part of a larger discussion, but just because a movie goes straight to a streaming service doesn’t mean it deserves to be discounted as inferior to theatrical films in any way — in fact, Luck proves that the opposite is true.

Image courtesy of Apple TV+

The first feature film from Skydance Animation, Luck begins on a dour note: extremely unlucky teenager Sam Greenfield (voiced by stage actress Eva Noblezada) is aging out of her foster home, but she doesn’t want to leave before helping Hazel, another girl in the home, find her “forever family.” The only problem is, Sam can’t seem to catch a break, and any help she offers falls flat by default.